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An in-law accused of dowry crimes sleeps at a communal cell in Tihar Jail's dowry wing, in Asia's largest prison in New Delhi, India. — Photo by AP
An in-law accused of dowry crimes sleeps at a communal cell in Tihar Jail's dowry wing, in Asia's largest prison in New Delhi, India. — Photo by AP

NEW DELHI: One woman dies every hour in India because of dowry-related crimes, indicating that the country's economic boom has made demands for dowries even more persistent, women's rights activists said.

The National Crime Records Bureau says 8,233 women were killed across India last year because of disputes over dowry payments given by the bride's family to the groom or his family at the time of marriage.

The conviction rate in dowry-related crimes remained a low 32 per cent, according to statistics the bureau published last week. I ndian law prohibits the giving or receiving of a dowry, but the centuries-old social custom persists.

Dowry demands often continue for years after the wedding. Each year, thousands of young Indian women are doused with gasoline and burned to death because the groom or his family felt the dowry was inadequate.

Women's rights activists and police said that loopholes in dowry prevention laws, delays in prosecution and low conviction rates have led to a steady rise in dowry-related crimes. Dowry demands have become even more insistent and expensive following India's economic boom, Ranjana Kumari, a women's rights activist, said.

She blamed a growing culture of greed as India opens its economy to foreign goods that the younger generation cannot afford but badly want. ''Marriages have become commercialized. It's like a business proposition where the groom and his family make exorbitant demands. And the wealthier the family, the more outrageous the demands,'' Kumari said.

Suman Nalwa, a senior New Delhi police officer dealing with crimes against women, said dowry practices extended to all classes in society. ''Even highly educated people don't say no to dowry,'' she said.

Comments (41) Closed

Ravi Ingale from University of Pune Sep 05, 2013 10:16am

Pakistani Media only to find India's negative issues, Pakistani should see their own society's women condition where women are not allowed to even to show her face.

Tariq Sep 05, 2013 10:36am

Indian mens and their families should be grateful that a girl is leaving her family's home for their sake and you treat her as tradable commodity who should come up with big fat dowry and favours. They should be thankful to have a life partner who takes care of them and their family in exchange for just lodging and food.

Sonal Sep 05, 2013 12:12pm

Sorry state of things!!! Indian men need to smarten up.

It's a counterintuitive that dowry demands have increased as the economy grows.

imran Sep 05, 2013 12:25pm

arrange marriage is the root of this dowry and the killings of women.

Anees Sep 05, 2013 02:08pm

How do democracy and secularism look at problems like this?

Jeevan Sep 05, 2013 02:18pm

I am not denying the fact that there are dowry deaths but the actual number is much less. The dowry laws are so strict that is if the woman or her family members file a case against the husband and/or his family members(sometimes even distant ones), the police has to arrest them without bail. The onus is on them to prove that dowry was not involved. Sometimes when marriages turn sour or when a lady commits suicide, the parents almost always put dowry demand in the FIR to 'fix' the husband and family. A girl in our locality married a muslim colleague against her family wishes. However, the marriage didnt work and one night after some argument she committed suicide. The family promptly filed a dowry demand case against the boy and he is still behind bars. There are innumerable such instances of the abuse of this draconian law.

Vish Sep 05, 2013 02:47pm

Indian parents need to bring up daughters to have greater self-confidence. Daughters should be fully supported to make their own decisions, earn their own living and not depend on getting married to survive.

Arid Sep 05, 2013 03:13pm

@Tariq: In Arab countries, men pay dowry to get wives.

Rana Sep 05, 2013 03:58pm

This is nothing to be proud of India...What an utter disgrace!

Anand Sep 05, 2013 04:18pm

Highly inflated and exagerate report to create propaganda. Many so called activists are actually not working on ground and always harp for media attention by giving such absurd statements of this kind.

Mohammed Yusaf Khan Sep 05, 2013 05:20pm

The whole world is laughing at us! The whole gang rape issue has left such stain on our country!

Jaidev Sep 05, 2013 05:26pm

I feel so sorry after reading this article. Indian men should be educated that they need a life partner not money. They should not sell themselves for money. It is a matter of shame if a woman is burnt. If one woman dies means a family is killed. I request everyone to respect woman and give her due respect and love to make a good family not good shop.

Agha Ata Sep 05, 2013 07:08pm

For every woman who dies in India over dowry matter, 520,000,000 men are equally responsible for this tragedy, for doing something terribly wrong, and not doing something desperately needed.

shuaib Sep 05, 2013 07:09pm

India has become a hell for the women. Be it dowry or be it rape!

Sonal Sep 05, 2013 07:20pm


You are so right. If Indian girls took charge of their lives and didn't offer themselves to be taken for granted, things would be so different.

Parents also need to stop protecting their daughters so much, and most importantly, they need to stop thinking of in laws as God.

Abhishek Pandey Sep 05, 2013 07:25pm

Its extrememly amazing how the Pak Media, forgetting all the probs in their country highlights this type of insignificant news on their web site. True enough, they worry more on Indian affairs rather than their home grown problems. No Wonder, the Pak society is in a dire situation facing all types of probs in governance. God Help them.....or may be Hafiz Sayyid

Raj Sep 05, 2013 07:31pm

Funny how TImes of INdia does not highlight much of Indian atrocities yet they are busy publishing any x y z story of Pakistan, I wish Indian Media would rather focus on publishing internal issues, I don't think they will have room for publishing stupid stories across the border.

Imran Sep 05, 2013 11:24pm

That jail room doesn't look too bad at all.

Farhan Sep 05, 2013 11:46pm

I am very depress to heard that, Why the people of world dont give value to their mother their sister their wife,

Krishna Sep 06, 2013 01:36am

@Anees: What is the logic or point in your comment Is your country better because of this?

Sonal Sep 06, 2013 03:00am

@Ravi Ingale from University of Pune:

I agree with you that Pak media tends to highlight a lot of Indian negatives. Things that you hardly find in the Indian press is usually at the top of the 'World News' section of the Dawn.

But that said, this dowry thing is a shame for India.

Sonal Sep 06, 2013 02:58am


That, and the bride's family should stop thinking of the in laws as God.

mustafa Sep 06, 2013 03:34am

Hey no India bashing, this forum is dedicated to Pakistan or Islam bashing.

bharat Sep 06, 2013 04:16am

@Mohammed Yusaf Khan: The whole world might be laughing. But to our credit, we have had a big outcry about it and women are not scared of declaring

bharat Sep 06, 2013 04:20am

I am all for bigger dowries !!!

Lilia Katia Rana Sep 06, 2013 04:32am

@Ravi Ingale from University of Pune: Women in Pak have the choice. Pls read the poll that said women in pak chose to cover themselves. I am Pakistani, I show my face. People in my family do both. Modern cities like Islamabd Lahore Karachi ull see women in western clothes, or in Asian without scarves and showing their faces. Stop pointing fingers at Pak when your country has the worst record of violence towards women - rape, murder, trafficking and so on. Isn't it Hinduism that believes a widow should throw herself in to the fire? Btw 60% of Pak is youth and as far as I know all the urbanised youth don't even wear a duputta let alone niqab. And wearing a niqab is worst than women being burnt alive over dowry? i ur implying that Lol And pls post this comment.

illawarrior Sep 06, 2013 07:23am

@Arid: Yes, in some countries, the dowry is paid by the man, in some countries it is paid by the woman, or her family. Both are equally wrong. People are not commodities to be bought and sold.

lolzz Sep 06, 2013 08:15am

Read here One child dies every minute in Pakistan: Report

The pictures seems more disturbing than this article picture.

Vishnuprasanth V Sep 06, 2013 08:44am

Talking about Rapes in India, the government and police in India has become friendly that women feel reporting rape incidents. It's not like in Dubai where women get arrested for illicit sex if reports rape incident. Brutal gang rapes are unpardonable and I hope government gives enough education in those backward areas where men act so brute.

Shubs Sep 06, 2013 09:32am

@Ravi Ingale from University of Pune: Oh c'mon Mr Ravi! Were you not aware of this problem before you read this in the Pakistani media? How does it matter where it is reported, and what relevance does the condition of Pakistani women have to this story? Let us not bury our heads in the sand.

cantry Sep 06, 2013 09:44am

This is not a only an Indian problem, it happens everyday in Pakistan too. Its ma kettle calling pa kettle black. We not only brought with us the Hindu culture but all its human divisions of class and the evil dowry.

Mohit Sep 06, 2013 10:32am

@Anand: Do you have correct data to refute these statements?

TamzaK Sep 06, 2013 10:32am

@Anand: so true. lets keep this issue to ourselves so we can take care of it in our own way. smart way to manage

TamzaK Sep 06, 2013 10:36am

@Vish: BUT what if they do want to get married. Perhaps if less women get married, there will be even more men who will not have a wife, and so the incidence of rape will rise. better to fix the problem, than suppress the symptom

TamzaK Sep 06, 2013 10:37am

@Ravi Ingale from University of Pune: please read this site often; and you will see how many 'anti-Pakistan' issues are openly discussed.

FAHD ABBASY Sep 06, 2013 10:41am

rapes , female foeticide , and murders over dowry.. all in INDIA

india is the worst place on earth for women.. their cosmetic moves on and mantras of secularism ,

economy and bollywood are all shallow and deceitful

Anuj Sep 06, 2013 12:16pm

Pathetic ! Indians, and to a large extent across the sub continent, dowry has become a social evil which now is murdering our womenfolk.

This has to be decriminalised, and education alone seems to be failing. After all, if we also go by education of perpetrator statistics, MOST were educated folk ! This is unfortunately still considered acceptable across society, quietly and the law should now make a family which has taken or given dowry, BOTH, probably, parties to the crime and make BOTH covered under the anti dowry laws. I see people still talk of giving or taking dowry. I think if reporting a dowry demand becomes acceptable as a cognisable offence, it will at least improve some of the immediate acts.

The men who STILL take dowry are a bunch of no good, cowards and losers.

A Shah Sep 06, 2013 02:13pm

How many die in Pakistan every minute because of Honour Killings?

chand Sep 06, 2013 07:08pm

@Abhishek Pandey: I find it quite relevant that educated people like you find this stroy insignificant. It may be that a story showing India in a bad light may have upset you. Do you come to dawn for only bad stories about Pakistan? you should be able to accept that not every thing on our side is rosy.

By the way I am Indian

Sonal Sep 06, 2013 10:56pm


I am an Indian woman. I have lived in 5 countries and travelled in over 30. I can tell you with confidence that India is not the worst place in the world for women. If I were born an Arabic woman, and living in the Arabic culture, I would be near suicidal by now.

To your point about female foeticide - there was an article in the Dawn recently about Pakistan's fertility explosion. One of the reasons cited was that people prefer a male child. So you really have no basis for being judgmental. Pehle apne girehbaan mein jhaank ke dekho, they say.

Sonal Sep 06, 2013 10:55pm

@A Shah:

Yeah and how many die in Pakistan from terrorist attacks?? Just because the mix includes men doesn't make it ok versus our "female" social issues in India. Mard bhi to aakhir insaan hai